Noam Galai, AOL Talking to Tilly and the Wall feels more like talking to a…
- Posted on Nov 22nd 2012 2:15PM by Caitlin White
Michael Zonenashvili for AOL
Carnegie is one of those spaces that exists as sacred ground within the minds of many music-loving Americans, a holy space reserved for truly righteous musicians. I couldn't really afford concerts at the peak of my Bright Eyes fervor, and I certainly thought going to Carnegie Hall was a far off dream. Yet if anyone illustrates the possibility of grasping at elusive hopes it's Oberst, so it was fitting that he was the one that led me through Carnegie's doors.
Oberst, who has been part of no less than eight notable bands at this point, seemed to revel in his ability to draw from the various pools of musicians and tracks he now has at his disposal.
A songwriter from an unlikely bit of Midwest, the Omaha, Nebraska native turned his adolescent experiences into songs so heart-wrenching it's hard to think of the genre "emo" itself without thinking of Oberst. One kid's pain shared through music, somehow helping others solider through universal teenage loss and unrealized loves -- it's the type of dream that seems like it could only come true in America. Here in one of America's great music halls that dream proved reality.
The second song he played was "First Day of My Life" off Bright Eyes' 2005 album I'm Wide Awake It's Morning. In a tizzy the crowd, all Oberst diehards dotted across countless balconies and perched on plush red velvet seats, were happy with the realization that this would be a Bright Eyes-heavy set list. And boy, was it ever. Bringing Bright Eyes alumni on stage at will, and with his noted collaborative spirit, Oberst churned out a solid 15-song set, a third of which were from his Bright Eyes days.
Notably, Nate Wolcott appeared on a number of tracks, and Maria Taylor lent her wispy harmonies to a few more. Trumpets and xylophones were added to other numbers, as Oberst himself stayed almost solely on his guitar, straying to the nearby baby grand only on rare occasion. The rendition of the Monsters of Folk song "Map of the World" was lacking key members M. Ward, Jim James and Mike Mogis, so the singer dedicated the song to them instead, and still delivered it in rousing fashion.
After an extensive hour-long set, an encore felt like gravy but it was still delivered. It was just before the three encore songs though, that a political shift in the room was keenly felt. As Oberst began to scream out pertinent lyrics to Bright Eyes tune "Landlocked Blues" the continued Middle Eastern conflict came to mind. Not just that, but the endless collapsing corporate structure of America and the shackling economics so many of us are imprisoned by.
Given these things, maybe starting a folk band in Omaha isn't such a bad idea after all.
Maybe this unlikely nouveau folk singer from Nebraska has a much better perspective on what's worth pursuing while we're here.
Looking at Oberst as just another heartbroken guy with a guitar is a vast underestimation of a keenly aware artist whose knack for telling the tale of the underdog has made him an act worthy of Carnegie Hall.